MURRAY — Salt Lake County Democrats on Saturday nominated Ben McAdams to run for Salt Lake County mayor.
McAdams captured 62 percent of the delegate vote, avoiding a primary against his state Senate colleague Ross Romero, who ended up with 38 percent of delegate support.
The two-man race became a bit more dramatic after party leadership started convention day Saturday with a party constitution change to allow a second round of balloting in races with only two candidates, if either candidate captures 57 percent of the vote.
Before today, a candidate had to claim 60 percent of delegates to win the party's nomination or face their challenger in a primary.
McAdams claimed 57.4 percent of the vote in the first round to Romero's 42.6 percent. Delegates piled out of the auditorium at Murray High School to vote in a second round — just as news came the GOP candidates had been narrowed to two with Republicans in a second round of balloting between West Valley Mayor Mike Winder and former County Councilman Mark Crockett.
Delegates going into the second round of voting had a clearer idea what the GOP opposition will be in November as they made their second-round votes.
County Council District 4 candidate Sam Granato defeated challenger Deb Henry on the second round ballot, squeaking past the 60 percent needed to win the nomination by less than 1 percent. But the second round didn't prevent a primary in Utah Senate District 8, where Ty McCartney and Josie Valdez will face off in June. Valdez was only one vote ahead of McCartney after the second round, so neither was close to claiming the party nomination outright.
Advancing to a primary directly are Rep. Neal Hendrickson, D-West Valley, and challenger Liz Muniz in District 36 with a 54-46 percent split favoring Muniz.
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, was nominated outright over challenger Richard Goldberger in House District 24 with Chavez-Houck claiming 95 percent of delegates' votes.
Rep. Brian Doughty, D-Salt Lake, on the other hand, lost to challenger Angela Romero for House District 26 by a margin of 72-28 percent.
The party's Saturday convention was beyond capacity at Murray High with 2,360 attending. "This is the biggest convention the Salt Lake County Democrats have had," said Kenny Wilks, the convention chairman.
Delegates voted on paper ballots this year, prompting concern the day would drag on with the record turnout. Wilks said the decision was whether to vote on paper or risk problems with electronic voting machines the county party had at the previous convention. "Last time we ended up with problems and ended up voting on paper anyway."
Wilks said, adding that ballot-counting time is still going faster this year than it did at the most recent convention, even though that event had half as many people attending.